As the daughter of 80s acting icons Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, former stepdaughter of Zorro actor Antonio Banderas, and granddaughter of Hitchcock muse Tippi Hedren, 24-year-old actress Dakota Johnson told Vogue that it didn’t occur to her to do anything else but act. But even with a serious Hollywood pedigree, the road to stardom didn’t happen overnight. Johnson stepped into the spotlight in 2006 as Miss Golden Globes, but the move didn’t lead to anything big. Until this year her biggest billing was a 3-minute role as Justin Timberlake’s one-night-stand in The Social Network, and playing a manic girlfriend in The Five-Year Engagement. Then Fifty Shades of Grey happened.
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For months, the Hollywood rumor mill was churning as to who would land the role of Anastasia Steele in film version of Fifty Shades of Grey, the wildly popular S&M love story (if you can call it that). There was rampant speculation as to which hot young actress would land the part, with fans throwing out names like Emma Stone, Kristin Stewart, and Jennifer Lawrence. But given that the book was seriously pulpy, without a lot of nuance, and some, um, progressive sex scenes—it also was a bit of a joke. Emma Watson laughed off the rumors that she was up for the part with a tweet, “Who here actually thinks I would do Fifty Shades of Grey as a movie? Like really. For real. In real life.” So with the big names supposedly turning it down, Johnson seized the moment. As she told Elle, “I don’t have a problem doing anything. The secret is I have no shame.” Her bold move has changed everything. Johnson has gone from “Hollywood daughter of”, to “It Girl” just like that. She’s recently graced the covers of Elle, Entertainment Weekly, and Vogue. Over 100 million people have seen the film’s trailer (the biggest ever for Universal Studios). What a difference a few years—and a risky role makes.
When it comes to style and beauty off set, Johnson keeps things more demure. She’s more likely to be photographed in a long-sleeved sweater than anything revealing. Johnson has been working with celebrity stylist Kate Young, whose clients include Sienna Miller, Natalie Portman, and Michelle Williams. For the Golden Globes she went with a silver strapless Chanel—not exactly edgy. With makeup, she’s keeping the dark hair and bangs that she sported for Fifty Shades, and looks fresh-faced in pretty, natural makeup both on and off the red carpet. It’s all paying off—Johnson is everywhere right now. Of course, there is the (fairly big) issue that no one has seen the film yet. The story could be totally different come Valentine’s Day when it hits theaters. Can Johnson really carry a movie? Will the part lead to serious roles—or some serious typecasting? We’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, check out our gallery of Johnson’s transformation from Miss Golden Globes to Vogue cover girl.